NORMAN — The Norman City Council awarded a $48.8 million project for wastewater treatment plant upgrades Tuesday. The council accepted a $50.3 million low-interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
“This is a project that has been in the works for quite sometime,” Utilities Director Ken Komiske said.
The project was unanimously awarded to low bidder Archer Western Construction LLC of Irving, Texas, at $48,822,550 — below the engineer’s estimate of $57,412,000.
Also bidding were Garney Companies Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., at $49,978,000 and PCL Construction Inc. at $54,462,183.
Funding will come from the Sewer Excise Tax for new construction, the remaining funds of the temporary sewer sales tax that ran from 2001 through 2005 and fees paid by Norman customers.
Voters approved a rate increase in October increasing the monthly sewer base rate from $3.90 to $5 and increasing the commodity rate from $1.60 to $2.70 per thousand gallons of wastewater generated.
Because the largest piece of the funding will come from fees paid by customers, a revenue bond will pay for the project up front. The low-interest loan will save Norman about $2.8 million in interest, Norman Finance Director Anthony Francisco said.
Regulatory requirements are driving the upgrade. The Norman Water Reclamation Utility’s Oklahoma Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the South Water Reclamation Facility issued July 1, 2010, by Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality originally gave a compliance deadline of July 1, 2013, for construction of new disinfection facilities to attain compliance with final discharge limits, according to city staff notes.
“This permit is renewed every five years, and sometimes the permit gets more strict,” Komiske said.
Because the plant also was running out of capacity and had some obsolete equipment, the need to meet ODEQ regulations was rolled into a general upgrade to include all of those elements in the upgrade project.
A recent TMDL study of the Canadian River also may bring requirements for more dissolved oxygen that this upgrade also will accomplish.